The Golden Years
In 1938, the world was on the brink of war. The United States
was also on the brink of a revolution--a comics revolution where Superman fired the first
bullet, and the Golden Years of the comic book began there, with Superman. The success of
that first super hero comic book triggered the growth of a new industry dedicated to
original stories told through comic-style illustrations.
The comic book industry expanded quickly and needed new artists
and writers. In the beginning, before the war, there were quite a few young and innocent
cartoonists all full of creative energy. After the war, with innocence lost, the creative
spark dwindled for a few years then was rekindled by another young group who brought with
them more "adult" (sophisticated) themes, many written by soon-to-be famous
authors, such as Ray Bradbury.
World War II made America grow up, and during this time the
comics industry also grew up. Many super heroes got their start during the war, but many
of those never made it back after the war ended, and the survivors had to be given better
stories, better leading characters, and better villains. A lot of the publishers who
ventured into the comic book field either retreated to publishing magazines or books, or
went out of business.
The golden years of comic books, to my way of thinking, didn't
end after the war, as many comic book historians tend to believe, but continued until Sen.
Eugene McCarthy and Dr. Frederick Wertham scared the living bejesus out of God-fearing
parents, and the ridiculous self-imposed Comics Code came into being around 1954. This
virtually castrated the maturing comic book industry, effectively inhibiting growth and
creativity for nearly two decades.
On the following pages are scanned covers from my collection
with some historical notes and occasional insights into the artists and authors of the